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Fox on the Box: Sunderland’s real game of groans has a sorry ending

FOLLOWING in the footsteps of Amazon Prime’s recent behind-the-scenes look into life at Manchester City, streaming rival Netflix brings us Sunderland ‘Til I Die, an unfettered glimpse at the inner workings of a club suffering somewhat harder times.

Unlike the City documentary All Or Nothing, which followed Pep Guardiola’s side through their record-breaking, Premier League-winning, League Cup-lifting 2017/18 campaign, Sunderland’s story has less of the feelgood factor. In this boxset age, if City’s tale could be likened to the glory and glamour of The Crown, then Sunderland’s is a darker Peaky Blinders affair, only with half-time oranges.

It is also the story of last season, Sunderland’s first in the Championship in a decade. But while City’s is an endless rise to the very top of English football, for the Black Cats it’s a rapid descent as firstly Simon Grayson then Chris Coleman try and ultimately fail, to stop them being flushed straight through the Championship and out into League One.

Turning water into wine is one thing, trying to hold on to a lead at Brentford is quite another

Sunderland ‘Til I Die premieres on Netflix tomorrow, when all eight episodes will be available to view. At times it’s more gory than Game of Thrones but it is a series well worth binging on.

What makes it different, and a cut above similar fare, is while it hears from players and management, it also takes great value in the input of the fans. Those that live and breathe the red and white, whose passion and dedication is unwavering, the ones who wake on matchday with a sense of optimism only to inevitably have it dashed hours later.

As the series begins we find a local priest offering a prayer for the football club ‘because their success leads to the success and prosperity of our city’.

Unfortunately, as the season and series progresses, it is clear there’s only so much the big man upstairs can do. Turning water into wine is one thing but trying to hold on to a lead at Brentford is quite another.